Nitrates derogation should rule out farmers from CAP Pillar 1 payments - INHFA

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Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Farmers who avail of a nitrates derogation should not qualify for any Pillar 1 CAP payment, and these funds should be redistributed, according to the INHFA's 10-point plan for the suckler sector.

Launched last week, the plan states that the new CAP will see a major move towards sustainable environmental objectives and Ireland's growing reliance on the nitrates derogation, it says, is a clear conflict of this.

It says of the 445,200ha that availed of a nitrates derogation in 2018, 113,000ha was an increase from 2014 figures and that over the next five years, if this trend continues the amount of land availing of the derogation will be 600,000ha or 12pc of the total area claimed for Pillar 1 CAP payments.

The INHFA is saying that farmers who avail of these derogations should not qualify for the Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) or any other Pillar 1 payment.

If all such farmers had to forgo the payment, it would create a fund of €113m, which it says could be distributed to other farmers.

Also, as part of its 10-point plan it says expansion of the dairy herd cannot be done at the expense of the suckler farmer.

Just 14pc of suckler farmers said they have plans to reduce herd size, according to a survey carried out by the INHFA last year, while 12pc plan to increase numbers.

Cattle and in particular our suckler cows are seen as a problem and for many the solution is simple, replace our suckler cows with trees and we will go a long way in meeting our climate change targerts, it says.

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"Those adopting this approach give little regard to the negative impact of large scale afforestation that increases rural isolation, desolation and depopulation which undermines our rural communities," INHFA President Colm O'Donnell said.

It's also calling for the re-branding of suckler beef, saying only naturally reared suckler beef, which would be protected by PGI status. It's also calling for an overhaul of the ICBF board, stating that at least 30pc of the board should be representing the suckler herd and that the BDGP is, in fact, a scheme designed to favour the dairy industry.

It says the BDGP favours traits such as high milk yield and docility over traditional beef traits such as weight gain and beef conformation.

It's also calling for a live export association to be established.

On Mercosur, it questions what environmental standards can be guaranteed from the Mercosur countries and calls on MEPs and the Irish Government to work to stop it.

It's also calling for a nationally funded scheme on cow/calf health, with front-loaded payments, while it's looking for a targeted biodiversity grazing measure.

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